When your marriage struggles
Lately, I have found myself wishing I had some of the answers to the marital heartbreak that surrounds us. I wished I could have the insight and wisdom aka magic bullet to tell people in difficult relationships and marriages - do this and that and your troubles will go away.
But I don't.
I'm likely to give simplistic answers or sweeping generalisations that will leave you thinking, 'you have no idea what I am going through.'
Simplistic things like 'God made them one', 'dont break faith with the wife of your youth', or 'love endures all things; love never fails' and other clichés people in a hurting marriage don't want to hear.
I could tell you that your difficult marriage is your cross crossing you, and that your Christian imperative is to carry it with grace, leaning heavily on the saviour, knowing that He would called you is faithful and He will not give you more than you can endure.
I could tell you that your spouse is what Peter was referring to in his first letter to the scattered saints of the persecution, when he tells them that they are suffering for doing good, and that this is for a little while. Staying faithful in a loveless marriage is doing good. Persevering under difficult circumstances pleases God. Not repaying evil with good honours God. May be this is what Paul told Corinthians is our light and momentary suffering that is attaining for us eternal glory. The fellowship of sharing in his suffering, being comformed to his death.
I could tell you that pain crosses all of us- the question is where and when it will cross. All of us suffer. Some battle with ill health and frail bodies, others battle with mental ghosts, others deal with prodigals, or difficult marriages, or wounds from childhood, or lack... We are all on different journeys. It's the broken world we are in. It's the sin in us and around us, permeating all things even marriages. Still God promises to work all things for our good.
I could tell you that your difficulties are God doing all it takes to get you sanctified and holy. We have seen God break us and make us, shake us and comfort us, press us and push, not sparing pain and grief, if it brings a harvest of righteousness.
I wish I could comfortably say that a difficult marriage is the testing of our faith, showing its genuineness, bringing forth character and perseverance and hope; purifying us like silver is purified in the fire, burning away rebellion, fears, selfishness and self-centredness, and pride and anger and grudge holding and bitterness and revenge. It's passing through the flames. It's the altar where we die; living sacrifices. It's the last where new life begins. It's being pressed on all sides but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned, struck down not destroyed.
May be it could even be God' way of filling us with comfort that we may comfort others who go through similar circumstances; our pain could heal many in the future.
I don't know.
Now I know I'm not expected to know. but God does. And God can be trusted. His word has all the wisdom for any possible scenario your marriage is going through. And God is invested in that which bothers you. So the best marriage advice I can give anyone is this- sink your roots deeper into Christ. Abide in Him and let his words abide in you. Be desperate to know God - not for the answers to your problems- but just to know God. Any two struggling Christians in a marriage who draw closer to Christ will ultimately draw closer to each other. Remember the analogy of the triangle- God is the pointy top, and we are the two bottom corners. As we move up toward God, we move toward each other.
"A marriage is not Christian because two Christians get married. A marriage becomes truly Christian as two Christians keep looking to Christ for what each needs moment by moment."
- Ray Ortlund
Finally, from 1 Peter 5:5b-11
"And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.
Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation."
1 Peter 5:5-6, 8-10 NLT